Headmaster, p.1
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       HEADMASTER, p.1

           Jaimie Roberts
 
HEADMASTER


  Headmaster

  Jaimie Roberts

  Contents

  Prologue

  1. To a Kiss

  2. Chinese Food

  3. Dream

  4. Shock

  5. Headmaster

  6. The Pub

  7. Watched

  8. Dinner

  9. Poetry

  10. Coins

  11. Date

  12. Book

  13. Bullies

  14. Surprise

  15. Naked

  16. Punishing

  17. Christmas

  18. Dinner

  19. Church

  20. Parents’ Evening

  21. Caught

  22. Gone

  23. Cabin

  24. Search

  25. Captivity

  26. Aftermath

  27. Consequences

  28. Au Revoir

  29. Distance

  30. Court

  31. Central Piazza

  32. Verdict

  33. Twitter

  Epilogue

  Afterword

  Notes & Acknowledgements

  Excerpt from DEVIANT

  Excerpt from SIREN

  Other Books By

  Author Bio

  HEADMASTER

  Copyright © 2018 Jaimie Roberts

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any other information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

  This book is a work of fiction, all names, characters, places, and events are the products of the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locations is entirely coincidental.

  All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

  Every love story is beautiful, but ours is my favourite.

  Prologue

  The thrum of voices carries through the intimidating expanse of the courtroom. The ceiling is as high as the Shard and boasts beautiful, ancient-looking patterns which all lead up to the dome in the centre. The judges with their silly wigs murmur amongst themselves as the girl, who once thought of herself as strong, now sits in the very back row—out of sight and feeling extremely vulnerable for the first time in a long time. Her eyes dart to the back of the man’s head as she takes the chance to watch him now that he’s not watching her. If he starts to look around, she plans to duck behind the people in front of her. She doesn’t want to make eye contact with him or see him any more than she has to. She’s had enough of him to last a lifetime. She can’t help but notice, however, that his hair has been cut, and from what she can see, he’s lost quite a lot of weight. His shoulders aren’t as broad as she remembers either. In fact, she is certain that she can see his bones sticking out from his prison suit.

  A knocking sound along with an apology from a giggling female makes her lose focus. She darts her eyes to the offending couple who is busy laughing amongst themselves, presumably joking about whatever has just transpired.

  Then she remembers that she hasn’t been watching him. Her eyes dart back to where he is seated, and when they do, her breath catches.

  He is staring right at her.

  All colour drains from her face, and her heartbeat accelerates, hitting hard against her chest. Her hands are clammy, and her breathing has become erratic. For the few seconds that they continue to stare at each other, she desperately wants to look away, but finds she is unable to do so.

  He smirks that evil smirk she came to know during their last years together. She always thought that his smirk somehow meant that he was on her side, but now she knows he was secretly mocking her. Panic sets in. She berates herself. She’s stronger than this. She’s been through a lot worse, so this should be a picnic.

  The noise of a door opening catches her attention, and raised voices lower to a whisper. “All rise,” says the usher as some who are already standing in the aisle take their positions next to their seats, whilst others rise from their chairs. For a moment, she watches as the judge walks through, but then her gaze wanders back in his direction. He’s still smirking at her, but knowing he’ll get caught, he faces forward, his attention now appropriately focused on the judge.

  She fights the recurring impulse to leave. Her own better judgement has been telling her from the beginning that she shouldn’t be here, but she wanted to hear what her psychiatrist would say if she forced herself to stay. That was the only thing on her mind when she left on the train this morning.

  The judge saunters onto his platform and swiftly sits down. “You may be seated,” the usher shouts before quickly walking out of sight.

  A creak from a chair is heard from the next row as a man tries to get comfortable in his seat. She notes then how hard the seats actually are, and she too shifts in her seat, swapping one leg for the other as she crosses them. Her heart has calmed, but she can still feel his presence all over the room, and despite the fact that he can’t be wearing any, she can still smell his aftershave. As it stings the back of her throat, memories drift through her mind—unpleasant memories of the time she was taken. It has been years, but she still thinks of them as if they had happened only yesterday. They continue to burn a hole in her mind and cement themselves deep within.

  A small shudder passes through her, and the man sitting next to her notices and briefly looks her way. At first, his face is impassive, but then recognition sets in. Scared he may say something, she deliberately looks away, shifting her focus to the front of the room. The judge sifts through some papers and then clears his throat. That’s when the man sitting next to her decides to turn and face front. Her heart calms again, and she releases a deep breath.

  “Mr Devenport, do you have your witness?”

  “I do, Your Honour.”

  “Then, proceed.”

  “Your Honour, the court would like to call Dr Sophie Richards to the stand.”

  Excitement bubbles in the air as Dr Richards rises from her seat and walks towards the witness box. There, she sits and a Bible is immediately pushed in front of her. She places her hand on the Bible and picks up a piece of paper, which is lying upon the wooden edge of the box she’s sitting in.

  “I, Dr Sophie Richards, swear by almighty God to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

  The judge thanks Dr Richards, and she, in turn, briefly smiles in his direction. The prosecutor then stands, and all eyes rest on him. “Dr Richards, can you tell me how long you have been practicing psychiatry?”

  She leans forward towards the microphone. “Fifteen years.”

  “And in those fifteen years, have you ever come across a case of abduction and confinement like the one Miss Jackson endured?”

  “Objection!” The defence attorney shouts. “Calls for speculation.”

  She still sits in the back, heart hammering. The prosecution has been pushing the idea that she wanted to be taken—that she lived there of her own free will.

  The judge offers the defence an annoyed narrowing of his eyes. “Overruled.”

  Her heart calms. The judge is on her side. Everyone who has been following this case is on her side. She was only fifteen when she was taken—a child.

  “My apologies, Dr Richards. Please answer the question.”

  Dr Richards also looks pissed by the defence’s interference. Of course she would after months of sessions with Ray Jackson. She had been the one and only person who had heard just about every minute detail of what occurred over a period of almost three years.

  Her arms still throb from
the burns she sustained a few days ago, but she ignores them for now. Her focus is solely on her psychiatrist.

  “I have had a couple of patients who also fit a similar bill. I believe that’s why I was chosen to treat Miss Jackson.”

  The prosecuting lawyer waves his hand. “So, you’ve had experience in the field?”

  Dr Richards nods her head. “Yes.”

  “And, in your terms, what symptoms was Miss Jackson displaying when she was found and eventually brought home?”

  Dr Richards feels that horrible pang in the pit of her stomach. She had felt that even before she had met poor Ray. The stories Ray told had horrified her. The manipulation of the man in court today went beyond anything she had ever encountered.

  “She was having nightmares, displaying signs of PTSD, and she had started having panic attacks.”

  “This obviously came after she had been found and was told the truth about her mother being alive?”

  She leans forward and says, “Correct.”

  “In fact, would it be fair to say that during the time she was with the defendant, she was—for the most part—content?”

  Dr Richards winces at the term, and the prosecuting solicitor offers a smile of apology. “I wouldn’t say content. I would say that she learned to accept the life she thought she had. She was led to believe that she was on her own and had no one other than Mr Winters to care for her.” At the mere mention of his name, she turns to look at the man who had caused Ray Jackson so many nightmares. The psychiatrist in her wanted nothing more than to pick his brains apart piece by piece to see what lies inside. But, without a shadow of a doubt, she knows that whatever she might find in there would end up giving her nightmares as well … because Liam Winters is nothing less than a monster.

  To a Kiss

  “Aren’t you going to answer that?”

  I look up from my ringing phone at the bartender and my friend, Brett. He has one eyebrow raised as he points to my phone. “That’s the second time it’s rung. It could be important.”

  I watch as Brett places one hand on his hip before flexing in a model pose. Despite being bisexual, he’s still totally camp. I always get a rise out of that.

  “It’s my mum. She fusses over me.”

  Brett offers me a knowing look. One which I am all too familiar with. “Can you blame her after what you’ve both been through?”

  Guilt tears at my insides. I was kind of hoping he wouldn’t bring it up, but I guess I deserve it. Knowing I have no other choice now, I pick my phone up. Brett rewards me with a smile before leaving me to it.

  “Hey, Mum,” I whisper softly.

  “Thank God! Ray, I’ve been worried about you. Where are you?”

  “Mum, how many times do I have to remind you not to call me that anymore?”

  I hear her sigh. “I’m sorry. It’s just quite a lot to get used to.”

  “I know, but you have to start. What if you call me that name in public? People will start asking questions.” Bending my head down, I whisper as much as I can so as not to gain attention.

  “You’re right. I’ll try.”

  “Thanks.”

  “So, where are you? Don’t you want to go out somewhere special? It is, after all, your eighteenth.”

  “It’s okay. I don’t feel like doing anything special. I’m just with Brett for a couple of drinks. I’ll be back in about an hour. I’ll bring Chinese,” I say with a smile in my voice.

  I hear her laughter. “Well, I can’t say no to that.” And then, in a more serious tone, she says, “Just be careful, okay?”

  Knowing full well what she’s referring to, I close my eyes. “I’m always careful. I’ll be back before you know it. I promise.”

  There’s a slight pause before she answers, making me wonder if I should ask her if she’s still there. “Okay. I’ll be waiting. Happy Birthday, baby—who’s not a baby anymore.”

  I chuckle slightly. “Thanks, Mum. I’ll see you soon.”

  “Bye, sweetie.”

  After I say goodbye, I hang up. Then I spend God only knows how long staring at my phone like something important will suddenly pop out at me. It’s been months since Liam, but I still can’t shake the feeling that he will never give up. Scrap that. I know he will never give up.

  “Is it me, or did you just come from a funeral rather than a birthday celebration?” I look up to Brett’s smiling blue eyes. My lips curve up. “That’s better.” He then saunters over to me, pouring another brandy and coke. “Listen, because you’re depressing me to fuck right now, I’m proposing a dare. Well, more of a bet, but it’s a dare too.” I start shaking my head, but then he cuts me off. “Now, now, prissy. Don’t spoil my fun. You’ll love it. Honestly.” He then grabs another glass and starts pouring a whiskey neat. “These two drinks are on the house.”

  Pointing at the whiskey, I frown. “But I don’t drink that stuff. You know I don’t.”

  He smiles at me wickedly, showing me the cute little dimples in his cheeks. “This one isn’t for you, hon. It’s for him … over there.” Brett points over to the corner of the bar, so I follow his finger, and my eyes land on the booth at the end where a man is sitting alone. I’d say he’s in his mid-twenties. He has cropped dark hair, which is slightly wavy at the top. It looks soft—so soft that I have this urge to run my fingers through the strands just to find out how soft they really are. It’s too dark to tell the colour of his eyes, but I imagine they’re as intense and brooding as his face. Running a hand over his stubble, which can’t be more than an a day or two old, he stares intently at the computer screen in front of him before picking up his book. I squint to read the title. To my surprise, it’s one of my favourites—Watchers by Dean Koontz. I look on as he reads something, and his eyes widen slightly before he licks his completely perfect lips. I would kill to have his lips. They’re full, pouty, and appear to be very kissable. He drops the book back down onto the table for a moment, leans forward, and starts typing something on the screen. It’s strange. As I look at him, he seems defined—preppy even—but there’s also a hidden depth to him. His eyes hold great intelligence, but his dress tells a different story. He’s very casual, wearing only a pair of jeans and a white t-shirt, which shows off just how toned he is underneath. I can see far enough under the table to know that he’s also wearing Nike trainers. It makes him look even sexier somehow.

  For a moment, I can’t take my eyes off of him, but then I realise I haven’t said anything for a full thirty seconds or more. Reluctantly, I turn back to a smirking Brett. I shrug my shoulders. “So, go give it to him then. Say hi.”

  Brett chuckles before pushing the drinks my way. “That guy over there is as straight as a two bob note, so I’m not going to give it to him. You are.” Brett then leans forward, mischief dancing in his eyes. “I bet you ten pounds you can’t make him kiss you within fifteen minutes of conversation.”

  I start laughing, thinking he’s joking. But then I look at him and stop dead. “You’re being totally serious, aren’t you? What are we? Thirteen?” I shake my head. “N’uh. Not doing it.”

  “Okay, twenty. I’ll give you twenty.” I hesitate at that, and then he pulls a begging face, pouting with his puppy dog eyes. “Oh, come on, Sasha. Live a little. I’m so fucking bored. I feel like pulling my brain out. It’s Sunday night—one of my quietest nights. I need some sort of entertainment.”

  My eyes widen. “Okay!” I shout, taking one foot off the stool. I then smile and pick up the drinks. “I’ll do it. At least then, my mum and I can get a free Chinese.”

  Brett points his finger at me. “That’s if you can do it. Something tells me you ain’t ever gonna pull this one off.”

  This is a stupid, immature bet, but there are twenty pounds at stake. I’m not one to pass that up. Besides, Brett seems to think I don’t have it in me, and that just makes me want to prove him wrong. Unfortunately, I am rather stubborn like that—a trait my mum says I get from her.

  Taking in a deep breath, I trai
n my eyes on this sexy stranger. When I place one foot in front of the other, I hear Brett laughing softly. If I wasn’t holding two drinks right now, he would totally be getting at least a one-fingered salute.

  I step forward again and watch as this stranger reads without a care. He hasn’t noticed me yet, but the closer I get, the more obvious it becomes that someone’s approaching him. When I step closer, I notice a couple of things I didn’t before because the table had been blocking my view. He has a black leather jacket and helmet.

  Hmm … a biker who wears Nike trainers. Now this should be interesting!

  When I step closer, he shifts a little in his seat, and I stop dead in my tracks. Am I mad for doing this? Yes, totally fucking bonkers. But Ray Jackson has never been one to shy away from a bet once the deal’s been accepted. So, with renewed energy, I step forward again, and that’s when the inevitable happens. He looks up. My breath catches as his brows furrow in wonderment. He must be trying to figure out what the hell I’m up to.

  Knowing I can’t go back now, I bite the bullet, and with renewed confidence, I sit down next to him, causing him to shove up further. “I need you to help me with something,” I begin.

  He smiles, taking my breath away. “And what exactly is it that I can help you with, lassie?”

  Oh. My. God.

  He has the sexiest Scottish accent I have ever heard. It’s rough, but not too rough. Slow and sensuous, but manly. Definitely manly. He could give Sean Connery a run for his money.

 
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